Summer 2014: Final Newsletter of the Season
It’s Sunday morning, August 17th, and a gentle rain is falling in the Lower Baker Valley. The clouds are low, and we have to take it on faith that the top of Pemi Hill is still there. Aside from the occasional call our local loon, the place is unbelievably quiet, having said farewell to 170 campers yesterday morning and currently bidding fond farewells to dozens of staff members this forenoon. We hope that our previous blog postings have conveyed something of the quality (and diverse activities) of the 2014 season, which we would certainly rank in the first echelon. For this, our last epistle of the summer, we’ll revert to our recent formula and conclude with a transcript of Danny’s toast at the final banquet this past Thursday evening and Clive Bean’s (that’s Clive Barnes’s New Hampshire second cousin, thrice-removed, on his aunt Petunia’s side) glowing review of this year’s Gilbert and Sullivan production, H.M.S. Pinafore. And so, with no more ado…
Danny’s Banquet Toast – August 14, 2014
May I propose a toast…?
Here’s to the summer of 2014 at Camp Pemigewassett, the 107th in Pemi’s rich and storied history, a summer that began seven weeks ago for campers, eight weeks ago for staff, nine weeks ago for counselors attending the Wilderness First Aid Clinic the Life Guard Training Clinic and the first ever shop clinic, and 14 weeks ago for the grey beards who met in Gloucester, Mass way back in May to begin sharing our dreams, ideas and inspirations for this 107th Pemi summer.
Here’s to a summer that concludes about as late in August as a summer at Pemi can end, with days growing shorter, leaves turning an autumn tint, and boys playing roof ball in the evening with barely a shred of daylight light, a summer that by all accounts has been a spectacular success, made possible by the collective efforts of the Pemi men and women in this room.
Here’s to the 259 campers who graced the shores of Lower Baker Pond this summer, 86 of whom were here for the full session, the largest number in my short tenure at Pemi, campers from 27 states of the United States and 8 countries around the world. And here’s to the new flags representing campers and staff from Poland, Colombia, Sierra Leon and Monaco that Larry added to our collection in the mess hall this summer. Here’s to the 81 campers who made the decision to attend sleep-away camp for the first time this summer; and, yes, Charlie Scott, Harry Tuttle, Per Soderberg, Ezra Nugiel, Patterson Malcolm and Andrew Virden, here’s to campers in their eighth.
Here’s to the talented and dedicated counselor staff at Pemi in 2014, to the cabin counselors and assistant counselors, ten of whom are former Pemi boys returning for their first summer back after a year or two or more away, the young men who shared closest quarters and become family with the boys, and who, for some magical reason, are able to inspire, mentor, and capture the imagination of their campers in ways even their own parents and we senior staff cannot.
Here’s to the influx this summer of young professionals and young families to our staff, to their wisdom, and experience, to their appreciation of community and also to their very young children who graced our community this season; is there anything more heartwarming, pure, and innocent to behold than watching those beautiful children explore the wonders of Pemi, dance unabashedly to Pemi songs, and remind us that camp is, after all, a child’s world.
Here’s to the hard-working crew that Reed Harrigan leads so vigorously and affably each day; Jeremy, Ruth, Sam, Kenny and Chris, the folks who allow us to take full advantage of this beautiful campus…to Office Manager extraordinaire, Heather, who never gets enough credit, and to Kim, who masterminded our ACA accreditation process this summer and deserves most of the credit for the 100% we received on those 200 plus standards. Indeed, no camp is perfect, but on August 5 Kim had us as close to perfect as you possibly can be for our ACA visitors.
Here’s to our magnificent kitchen crew—our blushing bride Stacey, Pappie, Nancy, Betty, Dale, Servacs, Bonifacs, Victor, Michael, Zybenek, and Micoh—who spoiled us with their herculean task of providing delicious and plentiful meals three times a day; something tells me we’ll have a chance to thank them again later this evening.
And a special shout out to our remarkable young nurses, Emily and Megan, whose enthusiasm, great cheer, and warm care was so vital in battling the virus that made its way through the ranks this summer. Thank you Emily and Megan for remaining so upbeat, positive, professional and resolute despite the unexpected curveball that was thrown your way in your very first summer as camp nurses…bravo!
Here’s to the amazing program at Pemi, to Kenny, the ”kid from Cleveland” who masterminds it all, to Laura down in Art World who proved to us that there really is life after Deb Pannell, to Charlie and all the coaches in the athletics’ program who always put values such as sportsmanship first….boom! To Tom and the trippies who sent us tramp, tramp, tramping each day out to the majestic mountains and the mighty rivers nearby, to Dorin and the beautiful music she and her staff helped us produce, to Olivia, Paige, and Emily and all the safe fun we had in the water, to Harry O in the shop, Chris on the courts, Larry and Deb in the Nature Lodge, Jonathan on the archery range, Sam down in Lax world, and all of the other teachers who brought major energy and mojo to occupation periods every day!
Here’s to Dottie – for anything and everything!
Here’s to the weather this summer, so many glorious and beautiful NH days, the crisp, quiet mornings, those blazing July and August afternoons, and the peaceful, golden haze across the Lower Baker Pond at day’s end that never gets old to behold.
Here’s to the things that made Pemi 2014 feel unique: “FAST” weeks and stick ball tournaments, a new Upper 4 and a newer Upper 5, ten-year ties, more barrel ball and chess than anyone can remember, sculling, Uncle Ed, the new path out of the Messhall, the morning sound of the “bangers and screamers” that kept the geese away, yogurt-gate, Lebron returning home, Jon Bernthal walking live for a visit, Pemi Westers being sent off by Pemi Easters, our new song book and the beautiful face lift in Senior Lodge that allows us to collectively gaze over the glassy, reflective lake beyond.
Here’s to all-camp events at Pemi, Bean Soup when we laugh at ourselves and anticipate “things to look for,” Campfire when we entertain ourselves to the setting sun, and to Sunday Meeting when we’re reflective and thoughtful about such things as the great Messhall fire of 1965, the flood of 1973, Roland, our knight with the unexpected star on his shield, and how one at-bat changed everything for the Red Sox Nation.
And of course, here’s to our 15-year-olds, to their three wins on Tecumseh Day, to the leadership they provided, and to the lifelong friendships that they have created. I know from personal experience that some day you’ll participate in each other’s weddings, be Godparents to each other’s children and, hopefully, become the next generation of counselors at Pemi.
And of course, here’s to the Reed Family and the Fauver Family who, in their loving, wise, and supportive ways, continue to expect nothing short of excellence from each of us every summer and who see stewardship of Camp Pemigewassett as their chance to make the world a better place, one boy at a time.
And finally here’s to our firm belief that Pemi is a place where, with every new summer, campers have another opportunity to be the person they want to be, to meet challenges with success and pride, to thrive in an inclusive community, to learn independence, to gain confidence, to become fine young men and adults.
Here’s to Camp Pemigewassett 2014.
Good luck, long life, and joy!
Clive Bean Reviews Pinafore
The Wentworth, New Hampshire dramatic season came to a triumphant climax this past Tuesday and Wednesday evening with this year’s Pemigewassett Gilbert and Sullivan production, H.M.S. Pinafore. The directing debut of first-year Head of Music Dorin Dehls, the show was marked by strong ensemble singing and acting and exceptional performances from a number of talented leads. The first operetta ever produced at Pemi was this same Pinafore back in 1951. And, in answer to the Beatle’s timeless question, we can say with absolute certainty about G&S “Yes, we’ll still need you, yes, we’ll still feed you, when you’re sixty-four.”
Ms. Dehls was the emblem of patient persistence all season long as she brought both the “girls’” and sailors’ choruses up to a very high standard indeed. The whole show turns on a dramatic moment when Captain Corcoran finds himself as exasperated as Ben Ridley discussing the theory of general relativity with Alex Duval—and consequently lets out an explosive D-word. Both choruses are meant respond with a complex, syncopated expression of musical horror and, while this reviewer has been fortunate enough to attend upwards of 20 Pemi Pinafore’s, he can never remember the cast getting it perfectly right until Tuesday night. And, damme, if it wasn’t perfect Wednesday night as well. Sir Joseph’s band of adoring female relatives, featuring Graham Purcell, Eli Brennan, James Minzesheimer, Owen Lee, Walker Goodridge, Henry Moore, Matt McDonough, Tucker Jones, James Kemp, and Matt Cloutier, were as flawlessly musical as they were beautiful—especially once “Matilda” Cloutier had shaved off her Middlebury mountain-man beard. Opposite them, Alex and Jon Duval, Harry Tuttle, Pierce Haley, Hugh Jones, Michael Kerr, Theo Nichols, Will Katcher, Sam Seymour, and Fred Seebeck manned the Pinafore and courted the girls with all the energy and excitement of male pit bulls at a poodle fashion show. Strutting the boards for the first time this season was Director Danny Kerr, seeking temporary refuge from the stress and loneliness of all-camp command by fleeing to the nautical mosh pit that was the ship’s forecastle. We’re sure his wife Julia was happy to see that Danny’s tattoo featured her name and not something really silly—like “Uma.”
This year’s leads were equally strong. Andrew DeGaetano turned in a solid performance as Carpenter’s Mate Bob Becket (no relation to Samuel), handling the bass line of the “British Tar” trio with singular volume and assurance. Nicholas Gordon literally rose from his hospital bed to give us a compelling Bill Bobstay, Boatswain’s Mate. Despite a fever in excess of 102 on Wednesday night, he sassed Dan Reed’s Captain Corcoran with the edginess of Lindsay Lohan back in traffic court again. Becky Noel was as winning on stage as she has been at campfires all summer, finally snagging Sir Joseph as a husband and proving that persistence gets you what you want, even if it involves a marriage so tight it would be illegal in any of the lower 48 states. Speaking of Sir Joseph, Tom Reed returned to the role he must have done ten times if he’s done it once. Never before, though, had he been able to bolster his dismissive attitude towards Captain Corcoran with all of the real-world frustration built up over the years trying to get son Dan to turn off lights in the Reed house in order to save the planet. Or at least trying to have everything else his own way.
Larry Davis was never better as Dick Deadeye, especially on Wednesday night. Even though Larry finally has internet-access in the Nature Lodge and has every reason to feel blissfully happy, he managed to play with total conviction a character so dark and bitter he makes John Boehner seem like Kermit the Frog. Stealing the show more often than not, however, was Will Henry as Little Buttercup. From the time he first stepped out onto the stage to sell Gold Bond, Skittles, and Axe body wash to the amorous sailors, Will and his hairy chest were absolutely unforgettable elements of the production. So alluring was Mr. (or is it Ms.?) Henry that van driver Kenny Morrell confessed directly after Tuesday night’s show that he’d fallen in love with the dude. -Ette! Ah, the power of art!
Speaking of art, first-time leads Robert Loeser and Dan Reed were flawless in their roles as Ralph Rackstraw and Captain Corcoran. Robert managed to deliver with perfect clarity lines of dialogue as tangled as a junior cabin’s rope in the Woodsdudes’ Day bear-bagging event. The part of Ralph is fraught with notes most people would have to sit in ice water to reach, but Robert nailed them with the ease of a Pavarotti – proving that he’s a clone of more musical mega-stars than just Adele. Meanwhile, Dan Reed gave us the simple but well-meaning Captain with a singular dramatic flair, making the show especially relevant for Junior campers with short attention spans by making it clear that Victorian sailors, too, worried about things like yogurt rations and Tecumseh Day. Dan was onstage for the bulk of the second act, and his capacity to deliver number after demanding number with undiminished energy, precision, and dramatic flair speaks well to his potential for starring in the next Baz Luhrman filmic extravaganza, The Walking Dead Learn to Run. Rounding out the principals was Jacob Berk, for whom this was not actually the first lead. He had shared the role of Celia in last summer’s Iolanthe, playing the first night before being whisked off for an exclusive gig with Cher at Caesar’s Palace in Vegas. This summer, though, he had Josephine all to himself, and he positively owned the role handling his solos with dramatic flair and pinpoint musical accuracy and easily matching Robert/Ralph in their icy hot duet, “Refrain Audacious Tar.” It clearly hadn’t hurt that Jacob had previewed his performance at Greenleaf Hut for an enraptured audience from a local girls’ camp.
We have already mentioned rookie director Dorin Dehls remarkable job whipping the show into such impressive shape. One-man orchestra Josh Hess was masterful at keyboard, even though it was rumored that he had refused a thousand-dollar bonus had he been willing to sport a nautical tattoo on the back of his shaved hear. Deborah Fauver’s weeks of hard and creative work as wardrobe mistress and backstage manager contributed incalculably to the success of the show. And, perhaps for the first time ever, the set and lighting drew appreciative applause from the both nights’ audiences as soon as the curtain first opened. We understand that special thanks are owed to Reed Harrigan and Ken Morrell for their invaluable technical assistance in these to realms.
Finally, a special shout out to curtain-pullers and nautical bouncers Will Clare and Danno Walder, who somehow managed to steal the show by standing there and trying to look stern and impassive. There must just be something about these two guys that makes it absolutely ridiculous when they try to act serious. In any case, it was two nights truly to remember. Looking forward to the 2015 production of The Mikado, we advise you to book early. Tickets are bound to fly out the door as quickly as Mitch McConnell leaves a meeting with President Obama. Until then, happy theater going!
~ Clive Bean
With thanks to Clive, we’ll close the last official newsletter of the 2014 season. It’s been an excellent year, and as we begin (unbelievably) to put Pemi to bed for the winter, we thank as well all of you parents who entrusted your boys to us for the summer. We hope to see all of them who can return in June or July of 2015. To that end, look for applications to be made available to veteran families on or about October 15 (and to new families towards the end of the month.) For now, goodbye, and have a wonderful Fall.
~ Tom and Danny